‘It was soul crushing’: Mum shares her grief to help others
HER heart aches every day for the teenage daughter she lost to suicide.
But while Renea Wheatley desperately misses her oldest child, Angel, she also grieves the future they will never share, such as helping Angel get ready on her wedding day or picking out an outfit for a first grandchild.
Her love for her daughter drove the Nikenbah mum to write a book about the darkest time in their lives, Angel's struggle with depression and her suicide at 14.
It wasn't until after her daughter died and she experienced her own mental health battle that Renea appreciated the pain Angel had been in.
When ask how it felt, her answer was swift.
"Devastating and soul crushing," she said.
"It was very eye-opening realising how absolutely horrid she must have felt.
"I felt I had failed her."
She's hoping her book, A Mother's Heartbreak, will help other parents whose children are struggling with their mental health recognise the signs that their child needs urgent intervention.
Renea also hopes the book reassures those who are struggling with depression that they are not alone.
In the book, Renea recounts the terrible night her daughter died and the impact it had on her younger daughter, Amber, her ex-husband Michael, partner Barry and herself.
She urged parents to get to know their children's friends as they were often the first point of contact when something was wrong.
Having a relationship with your child's friends could give some insight into how they were feeling, Renea said.
She also wishes she had been able to better see the difference between normal teenage behaviour and the effects of mental illness, because each had to be treated very differently, Renea said.
Most of all, Renea doesn't want people to think it could never happen to them.
"If it could happen to my family it could happen to anyone," she said.
The book can be purchased from barnesandnoble.com, bookdepository.com or amazon.com.
To reach out for assistance, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, headspace on 1800 650 890 or beyondblue on 1300 224 636.